Business

Creative growers and retailers are always looking for new and innovative ways to capture consumer attention. This is particularly true in the historically conservative and stoic world of perennials. No longer are retailers simply lining out an A to Z offering of hardy plants, hoping consumers will be equipped with enough knowledge to select the right plant for the right space.
Leamington – How does a first-generation family-run greenhouse land its branded products in grocery stores across Canada and much of the U.S.? By perfecting its growing process, and adding a little Zing!.Jordan Kniaziew, vice-president of sales and marketing at Leamington-based Orangeline Farms says since his family entered farming in 2000, they’ve focused on finding the best varieties and seed selections for peppers and other crops.Since 2013, the family has been growing, packing and shipping its own products — including award-winning peppers and greenhouse strawberries – under the Zing! Healthy Foods brand. “We’re always looking at growing products that fit the taste profiles we’re after,” says Kniaziew. “In peppers, our core product, we’ve seen there’s room for growth in the category overall by growing peppers for every meal – in fajitas or stir-fry, scrambled eggs and as snacks.”In addition to common red, yellow and orange peppers, Zing! offers packages of “chef samplers” under specific taste profiles such as sweet and hot peppers, as well lunchbox peppers. The company has won multiple awards for its peppers and other products including a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food innovation Excellence for its greenhouse strawberries.Kniaziew says the family’s initial interest in growing food stemmed from his parents’ first careers in health-related fields. Kniaziew’s father is a local optometrist, his mother is a nurse and his brother studied sciences. The Kniaziews continue to value a healthy, active lifestyle and they see farming as an extension of the health care field.But an interest in growing healthy food and a proven track record of growing quality greenhouse peppers didn’t necessarily mean an easy road for Zing!. Kniaziew says when the company began its branding process, it had to build its customer base from scratch.Today, they boast a handful of growing partners and a staff team that reaches 85 at peak season and Kniaziew says the company continues to grow its family of products with a focus on maximizing production while maintaining its brand’s superior quality.“There’s innovation not just in selecting the right variety, but in finding the best way to grow it, pack it, brand it and deliver it to the consumer,” Kniaziew says. “It’s important the consumer gets a full experience, and that the product isn’t being hidden in the back of the grocery store.”This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.                                                
Sept. 29, 2017, Alexandria, VA – Plant retailers have a new tool to help boost sales.
August 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – At the end of May, I visited several urban agriculture ventures in Pomona, California, with Robert Puro of Seedstock, a Los Angeles-based social venture fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable agriculture.
July 13, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – If you asked plant retailers to give you the most common question they get asked by consumers each spring, we’re sure “what’s new?” would be near or at the top of the list.
July 7, 2017, Leamington, Ont. – The NatureFresh™ Farms’ mobile greenhouse tour is still on schedule despite some sizzling summer heat being experienced in the U.S. Midwest.
Does Ukraine have Garden Centres? This question has been asked of me a number of times over the last few weeks. Last winter I was invited to Ukraine to work with garden centres and present a workshop to the industry. This was my first visit to the country and new experience for me.
December 2017 – This past August, I spent a week in Chicago where I was the keynote speaker at the IGC (Independent Garden Center) Show. I enjoy Chicago. A walk down Michigan Avenue is, for me, a “must-thing-to-do” to see what is happening to retailing in the U.S. and to possibly identify global trends.
September 2017 – Millennials are changing the way plants are sold, and the more you understand those changes the more plants you’ll sell.
July 14, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalizing on them to boost your business.
May 12, 2017, Montreal – Retail icon and philanthropist Aldo Bensadoun has stepped forward with a visionary gift to his alma mater, McGill University, aimed at creating new knowledge and developing leaders for the rapidly changing retail industry.
March April 2017 – Questioning whether social media and mobile marketing should be part of your plan? Consider this: the average user spends 50 minutes a day on Facebook – almost an hour! Social media is becoming part of our natural lives – we’re willing to devote a crucial hour to it, even after working 8+ hours and spending time with our families and friends.
Pure Flavor credits their partnership with IFCO as one of the keys to providing fresh produce to North America year-round.
As spring production starts, so does a new cycle of tasks.Floor sweeping and bench cleaning may be obvious, but when was the last time you calibrated your EC meter? Or checked the glazing on the greenhouse itself?Have a look at this comprehensive check list put together by Michigan State University. Divided into sections for structures and equipment, plant health and business management, you might find that you’ve been missing something in your routine.Note that some products may not be available to Canadian operations.
November 2017 – There are many factors that affect the rates, prices and tariffs paid for utilities and services. At many floriculture, horticulture and manufacturing facilities these costs are nearly 40 per cent of the operating budget and sometimes more. Adding to the concern is the possibility of costly billing errors by different utilities and service providers.
Oct. 30, 2017, Langley, B.C. – Bevo Agro Inc. is celebrating a record-setting year.
September 2017 – It’s the trade show/conference season, the chance to review the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Or will soon be offering.
July 7, 2017, Lambton Shores, Ont. – Arie Alblas, production manager with Roelands Plant Farms Inc. since it broke ground in 2013, is transitioning into the role of account manager and crop specialist.
This year’s article reporting on the 2017 trial season will look at both the favourites of visitors to the trial gardens as well as other unique entries that performed very well in the trials at Vineland (containers only), Guelph (containers and ground beds), Milton (ground beds) and the Royal Botanical Gardens (ground beds).
Perennials are a modern gardener’s dream – that’s what more and more garden centre customers are realizing.
July 2017 – Immigrants coming to Canada bring with them not only their own culture and food, but also distinct floral preferences. As Canada’s demographic makeup changes, this means new opportunities for flower growers in this country.
April 10, 2017, St. Jacobs, Ont. – There has never been more demand for making the most of your urban living space.
March 16, 2017, Toronto – Taking a stroll through the feature gardens in Canada Blooms this year, the presence of water is unmistakable.
March April 2017 – Within a five-minute drive from my home in a medium-size (90,000 residents) city in southwestern Ontario there are three major grocery retailers, a couple of specialty food shops and about 30 restaurants.
November 2017 – Last month we talked about the looming labour challenge in agriculture, and in particular in the greenhouse sector. The shortage has been identified by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in its report, Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future.”
October 2017 – The best grower in Canada working with the most high-tech facilities with only premium varieties still needs one important factor in place before they can harvest and market a profitable crop.
May 31, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The Ontario government’s proposed changes to employment and labour laws could have significant impact on the province’s agri-food industry. The proposed changes were announced yesterday in response to the release of the final report from the Changing Workplaces Review.
May 29, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn recently released the Changing Workplaces Review.
Over the many years that I’ve helped teams strengthen trust with their customers and co-workers, I’ve discovered that typical approaches to enhancing teamwork not only don’t work – they’re actually counter-productive. Here are three common approaches to strengthening teamwork, and why you should take a different approach to building stronger bonds within your team.
March 19, 2017, Mississauga, Ont. – Seasonal workers from five Caribbean countries and Mexico have already begun arriving on Ontario fruit and vegetable farms as a supplement to local labour for the upcoming growing season.
Veteran Ontario cucumber grower Jan VanderHout is up for any challenge in the greenhouse or farm association boardroom.
June 13, 2017, Chicago, IL – Thousands of produce industry executives are arriving in Chicago this week to attend the United Fresh Produce Association’s Annual FreshMKT & FreshTEC Expos and Convention (June 13-15).
March April 2017 – A pair of longtime industry volunteers have been honoured by Flowers Canada Ontario during presentations at this year’s AGM.
Jan. 19, 2017, Jordan, Ont. – John Valk has added another accolade to his already highly distinguished career in greenhouse horticulture.
Jan. 18, 2017, Jordan, Ont. – A long-time volunteer has received this year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award from Flowers Canada Ontario.
November 2016 – They’re greenhouse vegetable growers, flower growers, specialty crop specialists or plant retailers, and they’re this year’s Top 10 Under 40 award winners. While they may have different crops or businesses, they all share the same passion for plants.
December 2017 – I’ve been attending the Canadian Greenhouse Conference for 22 years and this year’s edition topped them all.
Nov. 7, 2017, Santa Cruz, CA – The first crops of tomatoes and cucumbers grown inside electricity-generating solar greenhouses were as healthy as those raised in conventional greenhouses, signalling that “smart” greenhouses hold great promise for dual-use farming and renewable electricity production.
Oct. 26, 2017, Mississauga, Ont. – What is the potential for raspberry and blackberry production, including indoor crops?
Oct. 18, 2017, Vineland Station, Ont. – Want to check out some of the latest horticulture research of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre? It’s just a click away.
Aug. 23, 2017, Vineland Station, Ont. – There’s a plant inside the greenhouse at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) that could change the tomato eating experience forever.
Aug. 21, 2017, Calgary – Nectar, the high-energy 'honey' produced by flowers, might be a brilliant distraction technique to help protect a flower's reproductive parts, according to new research.

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